Troubles of Turkey: the curse of history and geography

By Sumantra Maitra
0 Comment(s)Print E-mail, October 13, 2015
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A devastating attack took place in Turkey on October 10 with 95 people reported dead and over 200 injured at the time of writing this op-ed. Thousands of people including majority Kurdish opposition, Turkish leftists and Labor party members were on a peace march to protest against the stifling of democracy and the near constant violence which first erupted when Turkey began bombing the Kurds in the name of fighting against ISIS in Syria. Two distinct bomb blasts occurred within minutes and casualties included several prominent HDP and labor leaders.

Turkish authorities were quick to attribute the bombing to either Islamic States or the PKK Kurdish guerrillas. Foreign Minister Ahmet Davotaglu has been considerate and cautious before attributing blame on the PKK directly. Turkish officials in private conferences to various media and news agencies have pointed out the operational similarity between this bombing and the Suruc massacre a couple of months back. Recent unconfirmed reports also suggest that the brother of the Islamic State Jihadist responsible for the Suruc bombing might be behind the worst terrorist attack in the history of modern Turkey.

The PKK immediately declared a unilateral ceasefire in the ongoing conflict with the Turkish state, an overture which was not reciprocated as Turkey continued bombing Kurdish positions in Northern Iraq and continued their crackdown in Ankara and Istanbul. However, the cracks in the Turkish position are showing, and the population is seething and on the brink of revolt. It is already considered that the Turkish AKP, Erdogan's Islamic party will lose in the upcoming election, and that this attack and public reaction might well be the final confirmation.

Before delving deep, one needs to keep in mind the strange case of Turkey, unique in European and Middle Eastern history. The modern Turkish state is the descendant of the once mighty Ottoman Empire, the land of the original caliphate, the ruler and self-declared defender of Islam during the crusades. The land, which was ancient Troy, has always been located in a unique geo-political position, overlooking the chief sea and land trade routes connecting Europe and Asia.

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